The optimal learning opportunity – Life

Bill’s Tip for April: When you Lose, Don’t lose the Lesson

111“DOGGIE!” A three-year-old gleefully lumbers forward for a first-time petting experience. Startled by the child’s clumsy approach, the dog growls defensively. Oblivious to this warning, the toddler eagerly extends a well-intentioned hand.

“YIPE!” The dog nips the child – sending the shocked boy stumbling backward and screaming for his parent….

The School of Hard Knocks

As the child’s tears dry against his mother’s gripped pant leg, this incident has (hopefully) taught him to leave growling animals alone. If so, the experience is invaluable – one to add to a growing list of useful lessons-learned. However, if the kid hasn’t grasped the cause-and-effect of his blunder, he will come upon the situation again and again until he appropriately modifies his behavior.

We are destined to repeat a phase until we complete it.
-Sigmund Freud

Life can either teach us or torment us: we can learn and grow from our mistakes or we can be continually bumped and bruised by our errors. Lessons are unavoidable. Much like drowning our sorrows with alcohol, escaping a situation or side-stepping an issue often creates “morning-after” consequences. It is always better to show up to a circumstance with a kind heart, an open mind and a willingness to learn something.

Presence = Relaxed Awareness
-Eckhart Tolle

It is important to assess life from a balanced perspective: Presence makes this possible. As social beings we are designed to learn-and-grow from interacting with others: Presence oils this process, but only you can navigate your course of action.

For example, it would be maladaptive for the child in the story above to fear canines just because one dog bit him: This kind of generalizing would lead the boy toward a blanket avoidance of all dogs – cheating him out of the unconditionally-loving experiences animals provide us.

Similar to determining the friendliness of a dog by its growl or tail-wag, it is always better to stay in the moment with our wits about us. Our ability to decipher how others fit into our lives is vital to our safety and success – but this assessment can only occur on-the-fly:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.
-Viktor Frankl

This month, stay present. Respond without reacting: Reaction is response without the presence of a thoughtful and logical intermediary – This intermediary is you. Shake hands with life by appropriately extending yourself into any given circumstance:

In other words, win or lose – Don’t lose the lesson.


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